(Updated 4:37 p.m.) Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the coalition of state employee unions announced Monday that they have worked out the “framework” for an agreement, which includes $637 million in labor concessions for the fiscal years 2010 and 2011 in addition to an unspecified amount of savings for this fiscal year.
In order to respect the union process, Rell and leaders of the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition, which represents about 50,000 state workers, have agreed not to provide details to the press until they can be presented to union delegates and members.
This process is expected to take several days, according to a joint press release issued by Rell and union leaders Monday afternoon.
The details of the agreement that still need to be worked out include job security provisions for Judicial Branch employees and workers at several of the state universities and colleges.
However, Rell and SEBAC have confirmed that the proposed agreement includes a Retirement Incentive Program, in addition to changes in health insurance and wages.
While the parties expressed optimism that a positive result would be reached, they cautioned that more work remains to be done, and that any agreement ultimately must be presented to union membership for ratification, and to the General Assembly for approval.
Rell’s press office was unable to offer comment beyond the joint press release.
Larry Dorman, one of the spokesmen for SEBAC, said in a phone interview Monday that “a framework exists to help reduce costs and protect public services.” He refrained from characterizing any of the negotiations and refused to expand on the details in the joint press release.
“We’re just trying to respect the process,” Dorman said.
Democratic lawmakers were excited to hear about the progress Monday.
“I have always maintained that state employees are willing to make a meaningful contribution to the state’s financial challenges, as they have done consistently in the past,” Speaker of the House Chris Donovan said in an emailed statement Monday afternoon. “The proposed labor cost savings are a clear signal that our state employees are willing to share in the responsibility of helping Connecticut navigate through these troubled times, as all of us must.”
“The savings are critical and a clear sign that state employees are willing to be part of the solution,” Sen. President Donald Williams said Monday in an emailed statement Monday.“While labor negotiations have progressed, the same cannot be said for broader budget talks.”
“Last week Democratic leaders sent the governor a letter requesting that budget negotiations begin immediately, unfortunately she never responded,” Williams said. “The people of Connecticut expect us to put aside our differences and work together to solve this fiscal crisis. We stand ready to do that.”